GREENWOOD, MO (KCTV) -- The police department in a small Jackson County town is facing multiple allegations of excessive use of force.
The Missouri Highway patrol says an investigation into excessive use of force at the Greenwood Missouri Police Department is now in the hands of FBI.
Back in December, Jonathon Zicarelli showed up at the Greenwood police station telling officers he had just thrown his 6-month-old baby girl into a pond. Chief Greg Hallgrimson raced out the door, found the child floating in the cold water and saved her life.
Zicarelli contends Hallgrimson beat him up before booking him into jail, adding that marks on his face from the incident can be seen in his mug shot.
That case isn’t the only excessive use of force allegation against the department, though.
Greenwood native Nathan Gallagher told KCTV5 News that an incident at the time of his mother’s death has left him skittish to visit the town.
Gallagher’s mother Carla died in her sleep in her Greenwood home on January 27.
That morning, Gallagher got a strange call from his dad that something was wrong. When he showed up to his childhood house, it was surrounded with first responders.
A Greenwood police officer tried to keep Gallagher from going inside, but he opened the garage door and made it in the home.
He saw paramedics going in and out of his mother’s room, but the same officer blocked him from entering.
“I just keep begging to go to my mother, I just wanted my mother,” Gallagher recalled. “And from behind I hear, ‘You don’t want to see her, she’s gone.’ And I immediately just buckled. My knees got weak and I just fell to the ground.”
It was what happened after, though, that literally shocked the grieving son.
“Next thing I know, I’m getting tased,” he said.
Pictures show the marks from the taser while x-rays show two broken ribs and a cracked rib that Gallagher claims he got when he was tackled by multiple people before being tased.
That story is backed up in police and incident reports obtained by KCTV5 News from Greenwood officers and firefighters who were also present. Other officers who were at the scene stated they did not feel like Gallagher posed a danger to himself or others, noting that the taser deployment “was not necessary.”
The officer who tased Gallagher is Captain Steven Hawkins. The Greenwood Board of Aldermen voted to let him go and allowed him to resign.
But now with two potential use of force lawsuits on the way, elected officials have concerns about their police force.
Marvin Megee is the only city official willing to speak publicly about either case and said reviews are needed.
“Certainly, something needs to be fixed,” Megee said. “Every policy and procedure needs to be gone through with a fine-tooth comb in our police department.”
An internal investigation into Gallagher’s complaint about Hawkins revealed another time the officer used his taser.
That incident involved a handcuffed subject who was on drugs, and a report on that case reveals the other officer there did not think it necessary to use his taser.
KCTV5 News reached out to Hawkins for comment but has not heard back.
While it is still unclear if body cam footage of that case exists, reports in Gallagher’s case state there is no footage of the actual tasing, only of the aftermath. KCTV5 News has requested that video.
The issue of documenting the use of force was brought up in a February Board of Aldermen meeting.
“Well, we don’t have a policy that says if you shoot or initiate your taser or use a drive stun, that you will have activated your body camera,” Interim Police Chief Lamont Tatum said in the meeting.
“If a police officer cannot handle the responsibility of a body cam, turning it on and off and getting that done, I have serious concerns about the use of tasers and rifles,” Megee countered.
Gallagher echoes those same concerns, saying the way he was treated on the worst day of his life is unforgivable.
“Just heartless is the best terminology that I can use for the whole situation. It was just heartless,” he told KCTV5 News. “I mean, I would treat someone who lost a pet better than they treated me. And I just lot the second most important person in my life, besides my wife, would be my mother.”
Gallagher’s mother Carla died of cancer, and her family had no idea she was sick. Now they are left without her loving presence and robbed of the trust they had in law enforcement before her untimely death.
While he is no longer part of the Greenwood Police Department, Hawkins is still a licensed law enforcement officer in the state of Missouri.
The Missouri Highway Patrol cannot confirm or deny any investigation into whether Hawkins will keep his law enforcement license, but officials did say they’re made aware any time an officer leaves a department. They will then look into the circumstances and, if need be, send a case file to The Missouri Attorney General for review, who then decides whether to forward the case to the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission.